Kidney pain: find out what it can be and what remedies

The kidneys are located just below the rib cage, one on each side of the spine. Daily, they filter approximately 120 to 150 liters of blood and produce 1 to 2 liters of urine.

In addition, they are responsible for controlling the levels of minerals such as sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus and magnesium, blood pressure and the amount of water in the body. They also stimulate the production of red blood cells, vitamin D, etc.


Is kidney pain severe?

Not always. The kidney pain may have various causes such as changes in kidney function, infections or spinal problems, which can cause symptoms such as pain, change in the color of urine and painful urination.

These pains are not always associated with serious illnesses. They can happen in cases of infections and even injuries in the body that can inflame the kidneys.

However, some kidney diseases have few or no symptoms at first. Many patients only discover that they have the disease in advanced stages, and it is very difficult to recover kidney function.

According to the Brazilian Society of Nephrology (SBN), it is estimated that 850 million people worldwide have kidney diseases, caused by different causes. This means that about 1 in 10 people suffer from this condition.

In order to raise awareness and create strategies for the prevention of kidney disease, SBN promotes World Kidney Day, on March 14th.

Therefore, it is important to pay attention when kidney pain appears and investigate possible causes. In the following article, we will talk more about these pains and what to do when they appear.

How to know if it is kidney pain?

The pain in the kidney is usually one sided (unilateral) and projects in the region of the back. It is characterized by cramps of different intensities that can be accompanied by symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and changes in urine. These cramps are often described as similar to labor pain and can also be mistaken for muscle or lower back pain.

The accumulation of intestinal gases can also cause pain in the back and abdomen, with stinging or pricking and in a part of the back or belly. Symptoms that can also be mistaken for kidney pain.

Although kidney pain can often be mistaken for back pain , the sensation is deeper and is located above the hips, in the upper back and just below the ribs.

To find out if the pain is really in the kidneys, there are also some tests that can diagnose it. Check out what they are:

Giordano sign

Giordano’s maneuver consists of making small strokes with a closed fist on the patient’s lumbar region from top to bottom. This is done with the patient seated and leaning forward.

If, during the procedure, the patient experiences acute pain with stitches, the Giordano sign is positive and indicates a high probability that the pain is due to kidney disease.

Laboratory tests

Another way to identify kidney disease is through blood and urine tests. The dosage of creatinine in the blood makes it possible to calculate the blood filtration rate of the kidneys.

The urine test, on the other hand, analyzes the density, pH and the presence of elements such as glucose, proteins and nitrites (which signals the existence of bacteria), which points to possible kidney diseases.

What can be kidney pain?

Several factors can lead to kidney pain, which can be perceived in different situations. Here are some of the possible causes:

Upon waking

Kidney pain upon waking can happen due to the large amount of urine accumulated in the bladder.

As we spend many hours without drinking liquids, the presence of water in this urine is less, making it more concentrated.

It has the objective of eliminating the accumulated microorganisms. Therefore, taking a long time to go to the bathroom causes these microorganisms to proliferate, which can lead to a urinary tract infection , which causes pelvic pain in the kidneys and burning when urinating.

After physical effort

The kidneys are essential for the functioning of the organism and, therefore, it is important to be careful during sports practice.

When very intense, some activities can affect the kidneys, leading to complications, the most serious of which is rhabdomyolysis.

This happens when there is severe muscle damage, which can lead to the release of intramuscular content into the bloodstream.

Some of these substances, such as myoglobin, when released, can be harmful to the kidneys and can even lead to acute kidney failure.

In pregnancy

Kidney pain during pregnancy is usually common and can have several causes such as changes in the spine, due to the effort required to support the weight of the belly, kidney stones, urinary tract infection and even muscle tiredness .

However, the main cause is urinary tract infection, which can arise at any stage of pregnancy. This is because, with the increase in blood circulation, the production of urine also increases causing it to accumulate in the bladder quickly.

The increase in the hormone progesterone during pregnancy can cause relaxation of the bladder muscles and other structures of the urinary system, also facilitating the accumulation of urine and the growth of bacteria.

Kidney pain in late pregnancy, on the other hand, can be a sign of the beginning of labor, due to contractions.

Pain is not always associated with kidney changes, but in cases where there is pain when urinating, medical advice should be sought to identify the cause of the problem and avoid complications.

With nausea or diarrhea

When kidney pain also has nausea as a symptom, it may be an indication of a urinary tract infection that has already affected the kidneys.

It is called pyelonephritis and can cause pain or burning when urinating, abdominal discomfort, chills and fever above 38ºC, pain on one side of the back, nausea and vomiting.

The cases of kidney stones (kidney stones), on the other hand, present severe pain that starts suddenly when the stone moves in the urinary tract. The pain can be associated with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting and diarrhea .

What to do?

Pain is always a warning sign. Although it may be light and short-lived, it is always advisable to investigate possible causes.

The following are the procedures to be performed in case of kidney pain:

Get medical attention

In cases of acute pain in the lower back, colic accompanied by dark or cloudy urine, pain or burning when urinating, constant desire to go to the bathroom or family history of kidney stones, medical help should be sought.

Attention should be doubled whenever the renal discomfort is so strong that it prevents the performance of daily activities, or when it is frequent.

Perform exams

It is also recommended to perform routine tests such as urine partial and creatinine dosage regularly and in case of the presence of any symptom mentioned, the tests should be done as soon as possible.

In case of recurrent urinary tract infection, it is also important to investigate. When not treated correctly, it can lead to a chronic illness with risk of loss of kidney functions.

The medical specialty that diagnoses and treats diseases of the urinary system, especially the kidney, is nephrology.

This specialist orders tests to diagnose kidney diseases by measuring the levels of creatinine, urea, uric acid, sodium and potassium in the blood, as well as imaging tests such as ultrasound of the kidneys and urinary tract.

Remedy: what is good for kidney pain

First of all, it is important to see a general practitioner to be diagnosed if the pain is really in the kidneys.

If it is really kidney, there may be a referral to a nephrologist, who will define the best medication for the treatment.

Some remedies can be indicated to relieve pain and treat less serious infections such as anti-inflammatory, antispasmodic and common pain relievers. Here are some options:

  • Dipyrone : is an analgesic, indicated to treat pain and lower fever. The effect of the medication manifests itself between 30 to 60 minutes after administration and can last for about 4 hours, depending on the person’s body;
  • Paracetamol : is indicated to reduce fever in adults and temporarily relieve mild or moderate pain, as it acts by decreasing the sensitivity to pain. Its effect starts between 15 to 30 minutes and lasts from 4 to 6 hours;
  • Amoxiline : it is one of the most famous antibiotics for the treatment of infections caused by bacteria, but it is also indicated to treat different types of infections;
  • Codeine : it is a stronger drug, indicated to treat prolonged pain when other analgesics are unable to reduce it. It is also effective for treating diarrhea;
  • Buscopan : it is an anti-spasmodic, that is, it reduces gastrointestinal spasms, which makes it a great remedy for colic. It is also indicated for the treatment of abdominal pain and discomfort, as well as renal cramps;
  • Ciprofloxacino Hydrochloride : is an antibiotic indicated for the treatment of various infections, such as in the kidneys, genitals, abdominal cavity, joints or urinary tract in adults. In addition, it is also effective in treating generalized infections in the body;

It is important to always check the contraindications of the medication in cases such as pregnancy, hypertension, diabetes etc. So it is not recommended to take any medication without medical advice.

In addition, there are other ways to relieve pain when less intense, such as rock breaker tea or mixed boldo, chamomile and rosemary tea .

How to prevent

The Brazilian Society of Nephrology (SBN) lists some habits that can help prevent kidney problems and prevent pain. Check out these measures below:

  • Have healthy eating habits;
  • Control blood pressure;
  • Practice physical activities regularly;
  • Keep your weight under control;
  • Do not smoke;
  • Drink a lot of water;
  • Do not take medication without medical advice;
  • Make regular medical appointments to check the level of creatinine in your blood.